This event was held over the course of a very long day at an Asian Fusion Food Festival, and was heavily attended. We had a booth, three excellent assistants and active participation. Some memorable aspects of this piece’s creation were:
Two dental students, Asian men, who sat down to sculpt a tooth (actually the inside out version of a tooth- much harder- as the soft clay we work in is actually the mold of the finished piece.
My nephew Ron and his husband (above) who brought a Pride rainbow stamp, the first clearly LGBT-signaling item that I’m aware of finding its way into one of our flags.
A woman of Hmong descent who sat down with my tools to scrulpt a symbol from Hmong textile design often employed by women there, and explained to us about the “Secret War” conducted by the US with the help of Hmong guerillas during the Vietnam era, and which resulted in the US taking in a large population of Hmong refugees after the war.
A man from Peru who had just that week been sworn in as an American citizen. He offered us a medallion he wore around his neck to be imprinted into the flag, which read “Fu*k Fracking” (asterisk mine). He was grinning ear to ear and told us how he finally felt truly American, now that he was a citizen and was participating in the ‘democratic process’ by adding his voice to the flag sculpture.
Lisa, one of our assistants of Latin and Asian descent who brought a wonderful carved stone Asian perfume jar which we imprinted in the piece.
The A’s Fans and the Giants Fans who each wanted to imprint their team’s logo on top of the other's’.
The person who wanted to include the pistol (watergun) and we talked about how it could appear such that it would be semi-buried/shrouded in the surrounding plaster in the final piece- visible but somehow disabled.
The young person who found the “xs'“ from the middle of the Exxon logo, turned them sideways to look like a social media hashtag, then added the word “Sorry!” after it. “Hashtag-Sorry!” she explained was a noteworthy social media construction which meant you were not actually sorry. She adopted the role of tutoring us elders (30 years and above) in the poetic nuance of this usage.
At the end of the day I noticed that the “Coexist” element had not been selected. It was still on the table, pristine from the 3-d printer. (I had seen this bumper sticker with logos from major world religions, wiccan and LGBT worlds woven cleverly together in Cambridge and Berkeley years ago and had made it available in 3-d form in case anyone wanted to include it). When I asked our helpers about it they politely but firmly explained that “Coexisting"‘ was outdated today, passe. Pressing for more explanation they said, “these days if there is something we disagree with we feel little or no need to coexist with it - it’s just not right and we feel justified in shutting it down or at least shutting it out.” “Now that the mainstream has agreed to accept us…”, I fumbled, rather taken aback, '“we don’t have any sort of reciprocal obligation?” Nope. A month later, in Rockford Illinois at the 10th Shared Spaces event a group of young black teens picked the ‘Coexist’ object, and it lives on in the Rockford flag. But not in Berkeley.
Berkeley was the place I got my car broken into and my laptop stolen- at the event parking space- Golden Gate Fields down by the Bay. It was the only place I had any crime issue in my entire year of Shared Spaces travel. While there was a homeless encampment nearby (not uncommon in Berkeley) the guy at the Apple store told me thieves today have a sensor for walking through parking lots and sensing the intermittent code being sent out by laptops which lie dormant under your car seat, and thieves will break the window to get the prize they know is waiting inside.